Holidays, On My Soapbox!

Happy New Year, 2014


Dearest Readers

Today is New Years Eve. A time for everyone to celebrate, just a bit too much. A time to give thanks that we are able to
‘welcome in the New Year.’

When I think of New Years Eve, I think of friendship, spending time with some of my closest friends and reminiscing about the year. We in America have so much to be thankful for, especially if we have good health.

During New Years Eve 2012, Phil and I celebrated the new year with our friends. I do not recall myself celebrating because I was so sick. Fortunately, for this New Years Eve, I am not sick, but Phil and I have decided to have a quiet New Years Eve. We might go to a movie, or we might just sit at home and watch TV. After all, we have many movies to catch up on since we’ve recorded an abundance of them. I have wine chilled in the fridge and I might open a bottle so I can sip it quietly at home, where I do not have to be the designated driver!

What are your plans for the New Year? In Charleston there are many parties. The Elks Lodge has a private party, although Phil and I have decided not to be out on the roads at New Years. There are too many drivers on the road that should NOT be on the road, due to drinking just a bit too much holiday cheer.

For all of my readers, I would like to wish you a safe and Happy New Year 2014. May you enjoy the best of life. May you have good health and happiness, and may you continue to appreciate your life and family. May 2014 be a prosperous, happy year for you and your family. May you remember to give thanks to God for all that you have and all that you will accomplish in life.

2013 was a pleasant year for our family. A quiet, restful peacefulness within our home. I imagine there will be an abundance of fireworks in our neighborhood, like there is every year, so it will not be beneficial to crawl into bed early. The fireworks exploding in the skies always frighten our pups, and I do not dare to let them outside during this time, for fear that something could frighten them. How I wish our community would make them illegal, but I do not foresee that happening. Fireworks is one of the reasons a few of my neighbors chose to move to Mt. Pleasant. Isn’t that a great reason to move into a community — the freedom to explode fireworks??? Says a lot, doesn’t it!

I suppose I could really jump on my soapbox about fireworks, but why bother –NO ONE OFFICIALLY cares about them in Mt. Pleasant, and the last time I complained I was basically brushed off, leaving me to feel as If I am the problem and not ‘fireworks.’ Can’t help being a bit curious as to how many ’emergencies’ occur due to fireworks. They are dangerous, although children do not see the danger, and neither do the parents permitting the children to shoot them into my yard care!

So for now, I will close and wish all of you a safe and Happy New Year, 2014. Please be considerate of others IF you are popping fireworks at your home, and do us all a favor, don’t shoot them into a neighbor’s lawn or home. Happy New Year.

Fostering, Rescuing Schnauzers

Animals Communicate to Us…


Dearest Readers:

Today, I awaken to another gray day in Charleston. Now, it is raining outside. Raindrops tap, tap, tap, on the windows and I’m thankful I called my four-legged family members inside only moments ago. They are so funny when it rains. When the back door opens, they rush inside, only to stop as the back door closes. They lift their little heads up. Their eyes stare at me, as if to say, “Where’s my towel? I don’t like being wet!”

Drying them is a funny site. First, Sir Shakespeare rushes to the front of the line, to get dried. Sometimes, Sandy Bear is second. He loves to feel the soft, fluffy towel rubbing his fur. Many times, he will moan, as if to say, “Um-mmm. That feels so good.”

Hankster the Prankster is usually third in line to get dried. He doesn’t really care to be touched, but he does allow the soft towel to rub his fur, while he growls, and growls and growls. I continue rubbing him until he backs away. He is such a funny and grouchy little character. Saved from a kill shelter, only to live for a bit with people who did not understand him, this precious, confused little mini-schnauzer communicates his needs to me. After he left our foster home, he communicated to me in three different dreams that he wanted to come back to us. One dream said he wasn’t happy and the people did not understand him. Later, in another dream, I awoke early one morning, in the early gray darkness of an extremely early morning, to hear whining and a familiar bark. In my dream, I slumbered towards the front door. Opening it, I discovered a cold and wet Hankster. He lifted his face towards me as if to say, “May I please come in? I ran away and I’m tired. Hungry and cold. Please, Mom.”

If you, my readers, read my blog at all, you will remember I have visions. Sometimes these visions are so strong that I know, deep inside, that this vision will come true. My last vision about Hankster was the strongest one. In this dream, I was driving along the Interstate. Traffic was bumper to bumper. I was curious as to why the traffic was moving at a snail’s pace. I didn’t see any emergency vehicles. No sign at all of an emergency; however, as my car crawled along, horns were blowing. People were shouting. I looked to the right of the road. In the emergency lane, there stood a small little dog, hovering down. Afraid. The animal advocate in me kicked in and I pulled over. Carefully getting out of the car, I prayed, “Dear God. Keep me safe and please let me capture this scared little fellow.” I moved slowly, making soft noises so the tiny dog would not be afraid of me. He crawled towards me, and when I was able to touch his fur, he howled. Carefully, I picked him up, thinking, wishing and hoping that he was Hankster.

Placing the frightened animal in the back seat, I covered him with a blanket and buckled him. I lifted his collar. “Hank,” I read.

My eyes opened. I looked into the darkened room, hopped out of bed and turned the light on. This dream was so visual…vivid…almost as if Hank was communicating with me. I kissed the pups sleeping soundly in their beds and I rushed to my computer. Downloading e-mail, I discovered an e-mail titled “Hank isn’t working out,” in the subject line. I opened the e-mail. Tears rushed down my face as I realized those dreams were now a reality that Hank needed me.

Two days later I was informed that Hank was coming back to the rescue center. He would be placed in a kennel and re-entered into the foster and adoption program for the rescue center. As silly as my dreams sounded, I notified the director that I needed to be the one to rescue and foster Hank. I mentioned my dreams. Much to my surprise, when I got a reply, the director understood my dreams. She thought our family would be perfect to assist Hankster.

That weekend, we rescued Hankster again. At first, he barked. I allowed him to smell my scent and scooped him in my arms, placing him in the back seat. On the drive home, Hank was fine. He curled himself into a little ball and slept the entire two-hour drive. Arriving home, he rushed inside to the water bowl, then to the toy box. He remembered our home and our four-legged-family.

Some people say that animals cannot communicate simply because they cannot speak our language. I correct those people, letting them know that animals do communicate their needs by their actions, and sometimes, in their dreams. I am convinced that Hankster was communicating to me for weeks and that is why I kept dreaming about him.

Today, Hankster is happy. We adopted him and slowly he took baby steps to improve his attitude and disposition. For a few weeks, he bit my husband’s hand and he chased after his feet, especially whenever my husband moved closer to me. It was obvious that Hank did not like men, nor did he appreciate Phil giving me a hug. His story is one of abuse. After he lost his first home due to death, the family members took him to a kill shelter. Fortunately, Schnauzer Rescue of the Carolinas stepped in to save him. He went to a foster home, then to our home for us to foster him. A few months later, a family adopted him but Hank wasn’t happy, so we re-fostered him, only to fall in love with him and adopt him. Today, Hankster the Prankster is curled at my feet while I write this. Yes, he growls at my husband, but when he realizes he has no reason to growl or be ugly to Phil, he rushes up to him, as if to say, “Hi Daddy. Pet me please.” Hankster has truly grown into a little guy capable but skeptical of trust. Yes, he is still protective with me, and I imagine he always will be my little protector, but he does know how to love and how to accept love. Baby steps. Hankster has finally found the road to happiness.

This morning as the rain pours from the heavens, I give thanks for this precious little bundle that could’ve been put to sleep alone, without anyone to care for him. People ask me why we foster animals. I think Hankster tells the story better than I, or anyone, could by his actions. I will let you, my readers, decide. As for me, I feel blessed to love Hankster and to be the one he rushes to whenever he is wet from raindrops, cold, hungry, or just needing a little pat on his head while he growls. What is his growl saying to me? One word. One syllable. “Thanks…!”

Yes, animals communicate. All we need to do is open our hearts, and our minds, to listen to and welcome them!

Holidays, On My Soapbox!

ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER — THAN WORDS EVER COULD…


Dearest Readers:

This could be perhaps the shortest blog I have posted. Why? Simple. Actions speak louder than words. As a child, my brutal, angry mother shouted those words to me more than I wish to remember.

Tonight, I am listening to the imbeciles of my neighborhood playing with fireworks. They are popping so often that my four-legged-children are barking because they are so frightened. As you recall, my ‘children’ are rescued animals. Inside the house, they are safe, but when they hear the imbeciles exploding the fireworks, they become oh so frightened. More frightened than a Veteran suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. My children simply do not anticipate these explosions. They bark and hover down low to the carpets, or they jump quickly in my arms, as if to say, “Mommy…I’m scared. Protect me, Mommy!”

How I wish my community would recognize how frightening and dangerous fireworks are. Yes, I have written letters to the mayor, that is two former mayors, only to be told to basically cope with the fireworks. How I wish I could send a cleaning the yard bill to these imbeciles. Nevertheless, I will gripe about this issue in my blog, in hopes the imbeciles will recognize how inconsiderate they are! After all, actions speak louder than words!

I cannot help being a bit curious. Just what are these imbeciles teaching their children? That it is OK to pop fireworks into the yards of neighbors, never considering what the repercussions are? Imbeciles! Total imbeciles!!!

Yes, it is my night to gripe and I am. I am sick and tired of idiots popping fireworks without consideration of what they might do to a neighbor’s property. Imbeciles!

OK — it is my time and night to complain. I will be so happy when New Years Eve is over so I can sleep without the imbeciles exploding fireworks at 1, 2 and 3 o’clock in the morning. No doubt alcohol is a factor…mixed with fireworks it could lead to disaster, but the imbeciles do not care. All they consider is themselves!

The definition of an imbecile is a stupid, inconsiderate person who only cares about him or herself! The fireworks continue. Idiots!

Actions speak louder than words, but tonight, I’m using my words to express what I think about these imbecile neighbors!

Happy New Year, imbeciles! I hope you move soon!

Holidays

Merry Christmas to the World – Let Us All Take The Time To Pause…


Dearest Readers:

Merry Christmas, World. It is early morning on Christmas Day. A day to reflect. A day to pause. A day to remember and appreciate the true reason for the season. A day to pray and give thanks. Christmas Day 2013 – a day to appreciate all there is.

Last evening, my husband and I made a new tradition — one we haven’t done in a few years. Somehow, life got in the way and we broke the tradition of going to church. I found excuses. “I cannot find a church I truly like.” Another excuse — “That church is too big. We simply blend into the wood work.” Excuses. EXCUSES. So many excuses.

Monday afternoon while reading e-mails, I came across an e-mail from Seacoast Church, only this time, I actually ‘paused’ — taking the time to READ this e-mail. I discovered they were having a church service with Christmas music on Christmas Eve. I booked a reservation and last night, we went to the Christmas Eve service. Sitting in the back, when the music started, I was moved. Touched. Chills rushed throughout my body. My eyes watered. There, sitting next to my husband, I PAUSED.

What? You might be saying? Why are you writing “pause” or “Paused” so much?

So simple. Last night while sitting in church listening to the service, the sermon was simple — the subject — “Pause.” I decided I must “pause” more. Let’s discuss the definition of ‘pause.’ PAUSE, “a temporary stop. A period of time in which something is stopped before it is started again. A control that you use when you want to stop.”

Yes, it is true. I need to PAUSE more! I need to reflect, appreciate, and consider my actions BEFORE I speak. There have been many times in my lifetime where I have reacted without consideration of my actions. For that, I am sorry. From this day forward, I will PAUSE. I will REFLECT and consider for every action, there is a reaction. From this day forward, when I feel I am hanging on the end of a tight rope, I will PAUSE.

Today, I have a new meaning for the Christmas season. I’ve always considered myself as a religious woman. While it is true, I do not preach the gospel to others, I do remind people that we must be nice. Normally, when someone or something bothers me, I kill with kindness. I smile a sweet smile, and I do my best not to offend others. Yes, I am opinionated and I do speak my mind, but I really do consider my actions; however, I am human and I do have a quick temper when someone ruffles my feathers. Starting today, I will pause, before I speak. I will reflect.

Last night at church, something happened to me. As stated, I had chills rushing through my body. I felt a power I haven’t felt in many years and I know it was the power of God touching me. This morning, while I await my husband getting out of bed so we can exchange our gifts, I feel different. I suppose a simple five letter word touched me, teaching me to appreciate. To reflect. To rewind. To refresh. To pause.

Today is Christmas Day. Merry Christmas to God. Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday to Jesus. Merry Christmas, World. Please take a moment to give thanks. To appreciate your life and your loved ones. Mostly, take time — TO PAUSE!

Thank you, Seacoast Church for teaching me to PAUSE!

Uncategorized

When I Think About Christmas…I Think of Traditions…


Dearest Readers:

Today is Christmas Eve, December 24, 2013. A day for the world to come together, to celebrate and give thanks. When I think about Christmas, I think about years past. The many, many Christmases celebrated at my maternal grandparents tiny home in the mill village of Bibb City, Georgia. I remember my grandmother’s hands, her washing them every few minutes as she prepared the traditional foods for our Christmas Day. I remember the apron she wore, and I recall the delicious, tempting aromas of pies baking in the oven. The country ham, covered with cloves, pineapples and cherries.

Although our family was not rich, we lived in a community where people looked out for one another. At Christmas time we had foods delivered to us from our neighbors. One little lady within in the community was famous for her pound cakes. Every year, she delivered a freshly made pound cake to our door. Another lady made pies, especially homemade apple pies. Grandma baked custard pies and sometimes, she made homemade lemon meringue pies. She always made her delicious, soft as a cloud and flaky homemade biscuits. Ham sandwiches tasted so much better when we used a cold biscuit.  Christmas time was truly a time to eat…and eat…and eat. Never did we worry about calories.

In later years, Grandma was too weak to bake. Breast cancer had taken its toll on her. I took over as the official Christmas cook. Never did I master Grandma’s biscuits, but I could bake fabulous pound cakes.

Our traditions as a family were simple. We exchanged gifts, most of them purchased at the family owned stores within the Bibb City community. We decorated a Christmas tree, usually just a few days before Christmas. We went to church on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Early in the morning of Christmas Day, we opened our gifts, rushed to church and arrived back home to finish cooking the Christmas meal. As a family, we held hands before eating, saying the family prayer of thanks.

At seventeen, our Christmas traditions changed, at least for me. I was a ‘grown, married woman,’ but my husband was away fighting a war. My mother and dad had divorced when I was fifteen. Christmas became a sad time for me. A husband away at war, my father visiting ‘just for the day.’

Quickly, the years faded away. My husband and I made our own traditions. Going to church. Attending Christmas plays and musical festivals. Sending Christmas cards to friends and family who lived away from us. We drove around, looking for Christmas lights in the more upscale communities. In 1973, we moved to Charleston. Every Christmas my dad would visit with us and together we built new traditions. Christmas dinner at our house, using the best china and lace tablecloths I owned. We opened presents, watched football, and enjoyed the company of each other.

In July, 1999, I lost my dad. Suddenly Christmas was quiet. Although we have a son, he shares his holidays with the family of his wife. Rarely do we get to see them, or our grandchild who is now 13-years-old.

Phil and I are making new traditions now. We drive to see the Christmas Festival of Lights in Charleston, along with other locations within our community. Tonight, we are going to church, to hear Christmas music. This year, Phil played DJ for me and two of my friends at the Red Hatters Christmas Luncheon. We’ve attended Christmas parties and I have noticed more people are saying “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays.”

After this discovery, I contemplated in hopes that people are drifting back to the true meaning of Christmas, along with Christmas traditions. So many people are in the belief that Christmas is a time to over indulge. A time to overspend and max our credit cards. A time to over do things. For example, many people must have the most Christmas lights on their home, to show how much Christmas spirit they have. Forgive me, but placing lights on a home does nothing to indicate how much Christmas spirit one has. According to a news report this morning, Christmas was not celebrated in the USA until 1871. I was shocked to hear that statement. No, I haven’t the time today to research it, but I have always been under the impression that Christmas was ALWAYS celebrated. My grandparents shared stories of old when I was a child, how they used candles on the tree, and in the house. I suppose in my childish mind I could not understand why electricity wasn’t used. Silly me.

I lost my grandparents many years ago, but the memories I have are to be cherished.

What are your traditions at Christmas?

This year, we will celebrate Christmas Day at a friend’s home. Perhaps after dinner we will sing a bit of karaoke, and drink a bit of wine. Meanwhile, I will reminisce about my Christmas Days as a child. There were four children inside the house, all tucked in, nice and warm. We would rush to see what was under the tree. Did Santa Claus bring me that special doll? Did I get a guitar? Just what would Santa Claus bring us? As stated, our family was not rich, but Santa Claus never forgot us. Now that I am older and wiser, I realize Christmas is really not about gifts. Christmas Day is a day to reflect and give thanks that we have family and friends who will care for us and spend time with us, during the good times and the sad times. Christmas Day is the day to celebrate Christ and to share that celebration with the world.

Last year at Christmas I was sick. So sick, I didn’t have the energy to cook a Christmas meal. Phil ordered a Christmas meal from Publix. When he delivered it, I realized it needed to be heated again because it was so cold. The meal was dreadful. I told Phil never to order a Christmas meal from any grocery store again. I was so disappointed. Now that I’m well, I wonder, was the meal so bad because I didn’t prepare it, and I STILL had to cook it? Later that afternoon, we drove to some friends’ home to have Christmas dinner. Honestly, I was so ill, I don’t remember much about Christmas 2012. Illness, and a constant cough that refused to go away. May I never celebrate another Christmas Day that ill!

My wish and prayers for you, my readers, is a day of Christmas Thanks and Traditions. May you enjoy the love and caring of your family and friends while taking the time to continue with your Christmas traditions. This evening, Phil and I will be at church. Later, we will exchange gifts, in hopes that we will see our grandchild.

Merry Christmas to all of you!

 

Losing Weight

No More Christmas Cookies for This Chick At Christmas Time…No…no…NO!!!


Dearest Readers:

Yesterday was my D-day. D=DREADED! Yesterday, after missing three weeks from my Weight Watchers meeting, I dressed and told myself it was time to face the music. No, I wasn’t singing. The music I had to face was the dreaded, almost morbid type of organ sound…Dum…Dum…Dum Dum. You can probably imagine the tune. Definitely not a happy one.

“Just how many times have you eaten those stupid Christmas cookies, Barbie?” I asked myself. And — “Why didn’t you just say NO!” Duh. I had no idea. Yes, I kept hearing, “But it’s Christmas. You really should try these cookies. It’s the holidays!”

And so, I suppose you KNOW what I did. I confess. I ate the cookies. “Only one,” I said. Laugh. LAUGH. L A U G H! I kept going back. I simply could not say no, nor could I stop. The cookies were so beautiful. They tasted so moist and delicious. I remembered the years I baked cookies for Christmas and I was proud that I did not bake them this year, nor did I do my infamous chocolate pretzels. Why? Simple. I knew I did not have the willpower to ‘just say No!’

Arriving at Weight Watchers, I stripped my shoes off. I considered removing a Christmas vest, but kept it on. It was time. Time. TIME to FACE the music, the dreaded and sad organ type that shouts, DUM. DUM. DUM. DUM. Hopping on the scales I confessed, I knew I had gained weight. I was bad. A totally bad girl. I didn’t say no. I simply kept eating those beautiful, addictive Christmas cookies.

“How much?” I asked the leader. She wouldn’t say. Somehow I knew it was bad. According to my scales last week, I had gained seven pounds. This week, I had dropped about three, or so I thought.

The leader handed my weight card back to me. I glanced at it. “Four pounds. It’s just four pounds. I thought it was more.”

Furious with myself, I strolled back to my seat and shared the news. “Four pounds. I am so mad at myself.”

“It’s ok. It’s the holidays.”

I sat down, gulping down a large sip of coffee. “Thank God I am back,” I said, to myself. “If I quit, I know what will happen to me. One week it will be four pounds. The next week, three pounds, and on and on until I cannot fit into my clothes. Thank God I gave those old clothes to Goodwill, and thank God I found the courage to come back to Weight Watchers. I will never procrastinate about my meetings again and when I feel the urge to eat a cookie, I will recognize that there are times I am addicted to food too. I must also recognize that when people encourage to ‘eat just a bite…it won’t hurt you…’ they are pushing foods and TEMPTATIONS to me.

I must be strong. I must have the courage to say NO!

I will not have another Weight Watchers meeting until January 2, 2014. Keep reading, my readers, friends, family and fans. I will be happy to report a weight loss on that date. You just wait!

Meanwhile, to all of you, I wish you a Merry Christmas. I am sad to report my husband lost an uncle a few days ago, so added to our busy schedule is to attend his funeral and to visit with his family. The holidays are such a sad time when a death occurs, but one thing this teaches all of us is that life is precious, and just because the holidays are upon us, it doesn’t mean that there will not be death, sadness, divorce, pain, illness and so many disappointments as we live life. This reality teaches me how precious life is. Yesterday was my dad’s birthday. If he was still with us, he would be 99-years-old. I lost my dad on July 6, 1999. Words cannot express how much I miss him. However, I feel his presence inside of me every day and I can still hear his precious, encouraging words he shared with me as he battled esophageal cancer. He would walk me to the door of his room at the nursing home, when he could. He planted a kiss on my cheek and said, “Make it a good day. Live for the moment, and move forward with life, don’t look back!”

My dad was a wise man who looked for the good in life. When life gave him difficulties, he still smiled and strived to find the good in life, not the bad. Merry Christmas to everyone.

If you read my blog regularly, stay tuned for a report on January 2, 2014. I keep telling myself, “I can do this…!” There will be a weight loss! You just stay tuned. I will not reach for another Christmas cookie. I will run from the Cookie Monster!

Press Releases

Announcing the Sevierville Bloomin’ Barbeque & Bluegrass Festival


Press Release

December 17, 2013

Contact: Amanda Marr

Sevierville Chamber of Commerce

(865) 919-5385 / amarr@scoc.org

 

THE STEELDRIVERS HEADLINE 10th ANNUAL

SEVIERVILLE BLOOMIN’ BARBEQUE & BLUEGRASS FESTIVAL

 

Sevierville, Tenn. – Sevierville’s Bloomin’ Barbeque & Bluegrass (May 16 & 17, 2014) festival has announced the entertainment lineup for its tenth annual event, including a headline performance from rising bluegrass supergroup, The SteelDrivers.

 

Festivities and music get underway in downtown Sevierville, Tennessee on Friday, May 16 at 5p.m. with a live performance from Grammy winning and national fingerpicking champion, Bill Mize. The Jeanette Williams Band and Jimbo Whaley & Greenbrier  will follow Mize before Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out  close out Friday night’s show.

 

On Saturday, the festivities get started with 13-year old banjo phenomenon Willow Osborne, five-time IBMA vocalist of the year Dale Ann Bradley and Chris Jones & The Night Drivers, led by SiriusXM Bluegrass Junction show host Chris Jones. Living legend Bobby Osborne & Rocky Top Xpress will also perform two shows as part of his “Celebration Tour” recognizing his 50 years as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. All total, Osborne’s career has spanned more than 60 years with numerous highlights including his 1967 recording of “Rocky Top” – the version which became an official state song of Tennessee.  Saturday evening’s headliner, the SteelDrivers, whose fans range from Vince Gill to Adele, (she began performing their song “If It Hadn’t Been for Love” in 2011 during her live shows) promise to cap off an incredible weekend of bluegrass. The SteelDrivers have performed on a variety of stages ranging from the Grand Ole Opry to the Conan O’Brien Show.

 

“We are very proud of the lineup we’re offering for our 10th anniversary of the Bloomin’ Barbeque & Bluegrass festival,” says Sevierville Chamber of Commerce marketing director Amanda Marr.  “We have a solid lineup of quality artists – everyone from Grammy winners and Grand Ole Opry legends to wildly popular up-and-coming groups, like the SteelDrivers. Toes will definitely be tapping in downtown Sevierville this May.”

 

Friday, May 16

5p.m. – Bill Mize

6p.m. – Jeanette Williams Band

7p.m. – Jimbo Whaley & Greenbrier

8p.m. – Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out

 

Saturday, May 17

1p.m. – Willow Osborne

2p.m. – Dale Ann Bradley

3p.m. – Chris Jones & The Night Drivers

4p.m. – Bobby Osborne & Rocky Top Xpress

5p.m. – Dale Ann Bradley

6p.m. – Chris Jones & The Night Drivers

7p.m. – Bobby Osborne & Rocky Top Xpress

8p.m. – The SteelDrivers

 

Bloomin’ BBQ & Bluegrass is a family-friendly event featuring the biggest names in Bluegrass music, up-and-coming artists on the Hard Rock Café Community Stage, the nation’s top BBQ cook teams in the Bush’s Best Tennessee State Championship Cook-Off, and the Mountain Soul Vocal Competition honoring the songwriting of Sevierville’s favorite hometown girl, Dolly Parton. Event goers can also enjoy delicious foods, handmade crafts and kids’ games.

 

Admission and concerts are free thanks to great sponsors, including the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce which encourages you to stay in Sevierville while visiting Bloomin’ BBQ & Bluegrass. For festival lodging deals and more information about Bloomin’ Barbeque & Bluegrass, call (888) 889-7415 or visit us online at www.BloominBBQ.com.

-ENDS-

 

 

 

Amanda Maples Marr

Marketing Director

Sevierville Chamber of Commerce

(865) 453-6411 / cell (865) 919-5385

amarr@scoc.org

 

www.VisitSevierville.com   www.OfficialGirlfriendsGetaway.com   www.BloominBBQ.com

 

www.fb.com/Sevierville

www.twitter.com/SevierFun

www.pinterest.com/Sevierville

 

Holidays

What is Christmas?


Dearest Readers:

Christmas is more than gifts, socializing, drinking, partying and  simply having fun. Christmas is the season where we appreciate Christ and all that He represents. To those who are atheists, I say, it is a fact that I believe in Christ and Christmas and I strive to appreciate the true meaning of Christmas. I do not write “Happy Xmas” on packages or on Christmas cards. I write Merry Christmas. I believe in leaving Christ in Christmas.

While you are busy shopping for just the perfect gift for your loved ones have you ever caught yourself singing aloud some of the Christmas songs you hear? I confess, I could be one of those people singing the lyrics while shopping.  I simply adore singing. I know most of the Christmas songs by heart, especially those related to the reason for the season. “The Little Drummer Boy,” “Oh Come All Ye Faithful,” “Silent Night,” and so many more. Those songs touch me, filling me with the spirit for the holiday season.

But, I ask you — What Is Christmas? Is it simply a time to shop for everyone you know, in hopes they will exchange a gift with you? Is it a time to bake Christmas cookies, cakes and other delicious and too tempting foods? Is Christmas a time to open your home to others, in hopes they will be envious of your beautiful home? Is Christmas the time to brag to others about extreme holiday vacations and gifts? Or, is Christmas the time to celebrate and give thanks for religion, freedom, family, friends, and the birth of Christ on that first Christmas Day?

For me, Christmas is a time to remember holidays past. I remember my grandparents and how they instilled to four granddaughters that Christmas time was a time to attend church, to pray, to sing and to give to others, without expecting a gift in return. Christmas is a time to say thank you and to be appreciative for  every gift, even IF it is a fruit cake or something handmade. I remember receiving chocolate covered cherries, fruitcake and cookies. I smiled and said thank you. Our Christmas time was a time where we did not recycle these gifts to others. We kept them.

One of my most commemorative gifts was when I was about 15. A family friend who was more of an uncle than a friend, built handmade jewelry boxes for all of us. When I opened it, I noticed how shiny and beautiful it was. I had nothing to put in it, but I still have that special handmade jewelry box sitting on my dresser. I store my collection of pearls in it and I still cherish it. I do not have other gifts I can remember like this precious, special jewelry box. Isn’t it funny how something handmade still is cherished!

After last Christmas I learned something valuable due to illness. I was much too ill to rush around like a maniac, or to drive in such a rush, and I was much too weak to bake Christmas goodies. I suppose in all of the hustle bustle of the materialistic, commercialized season, I learned that Christmas is indeed a special time.  I caught myself going to a special window more, folding my hands in prayer, just like my grandmother did. When Christmas morning arrived, I didn’t rush to see what was under the Christmas tree. I rushed to give my husband a hug, but not a kiss, since I was so ill. I think I learned to appreciate the little things of Christmas last year, and when we went to dinner at one of our friend’s house, I don’t think I hugged anyone, for fear of spreading my germs. There is little I remember about Christmas Day 2012, due to illness, but I was  thankful for friends, family and the true reason for the season.

I made a promise to myself during Christmas 2012, a promise of not getting so wrapped up in the season that I would forget the true meaning of Christmas. Now that I am able to write again, I will attempt to write my beliefs for Christmas, and I hope you, my readers, will share your comments and traditions with me. Many of my traditions have changed over the years, but I still strive to share the memories made during my childhood. The traditions of church and singing in the choir. Still, I am searching for a church within my community and when I find it, I will retrieve the traditions I shared as a child.

Christmas is a season to refresh, give thanks and make time to find the little things that are so special in life. We, as a family, donate to local charities during Christmas, and I always contribute to St. Jude and other non-profits. Of course, I always reach to donate to the Salvation Army bell ringers, Meals on Wheels and others. My contributions are small, but they always warm my heart, just to share a bit of generosity and love to those who need help during the Christmas season.

To all of my readers, I wish you a joyous Christmas season. May you take the time to appreciate life, and not get bogged down within the Christmas rush. Take the time to say Merry Christmas to a complete stranger, and smile! Have a Merry, Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

Free Writing, Holidays

Reflections At Christmas Time


Christmas   Is…

 Dearest Readers:

Yes, it is the Christmas season. A time to give thanks and be appreciative for all that we are, and all that we have. A time to celebrate the birth of CHRIST…a time to recognize that IF we did not have the ‘birth of Christ’ as the reason for the season, we would not be celebrating Christmas.

Perhaps that is one of the reasons for this editorial. I cannot tell you how many times I hear good wishes, such as “Happy Holidays.” My response is a quick, “Merry Christmas to you too.” On one occasion while shopping, the employee look stunned at me when I said, “Merry Christmas.”

“We can’t say that,” she replied. “We can only say Happy Holidays.”

“But…this is America. The land of the free. We can express anything here in America.”

She looked down at the floor. “We can only say “Happy Holidays.”

I recall when I worked in the retail sales industry and we were told it was better to say “Happy Holidays,” than to express “Merry Christmas,” after all, we did not want to offend anyone. The philosophy at the department store was that Happy Holidays covered all of the holidays. Still, I expressed, “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,” covering both. I didn’t care that I might offend someone. If they were shopping for the holidays, then I wished them a Merry Christmas.

I remembered my grandmother and how furious she got when she read “Merry Xmas.” “That isn’t Christmas,” she expressed. “They’re leaving Christ out of Christmas.” As a child I didn’t fully understand what she was saying. Now older and wiser, I do understand and I make certain I write Christmas, not Xmas. I will not leave Christ out of Christmas.

I do not believe that I am the most religious person in the world, but I do believe in Christ and I believe I am a Christian. I do my best to be a good person, and to treat others as I wish to be treated. Of course, I am human, and at times, I am just a bit opinionated, as you will read in this epistle! Yes, I am a feminist and an advocate against domestic abuse of all types. I look for the good in everyone and I believe that everyone in life has a purpose; however, I believe that when we make mistakes, we must admit them, apologize and rise above the controversy or pain we caused to others. Everyone deserves a second chance. We must make the most of every day and live life to its fullest. I attempt to treat everyone as an equal and I do not understand that IF America is the land of the free, where we can express our words freely, then we should be able to keep Christ in Christmas, and by saying Merry Christmas, there should not be any offense to anyone.

Let’s consider Christmas:

C Christmas, a time to Celebrate and to share our love with others. Most of all, Christmas is the celebration of the birth of the Christ child. A time for change and growth within our lives.

HHope. Something our entire world needs now more than ever. Hope for the future. Hope for peace.

R Reflection. A time to reflect on who we are, where we are going, and what we are doing in our daily lives.

IIntegrity. Everyone needs to strive to have more integrity for ourselves, and for others.

SSalvation.

TTime. We need to share more of our time, especially quality time with our loved ones. We need to make time to shut down the technology and to share quality time without interruptions.

M – Making the most of each day while recognizing that life is short and we should appreciate those who are important in our lives.

AAdoration. Appreciation.

S – Simplicity.

Last year, during the Christmas holidays, I was sick. Dreadfully ill with acute bronchitis. My body lacked energy. Every breath was a struggle. My oxygen level was ‘less than 85,’ and I was told to get plenty of rest. Resting was not a problem. Throughout the day, I rested in bed, watching Lifetime and Hallmark channel Christmas movies until I could almost recite the dialogue of each movie. When the phone rang, I ignored it. I told my friends to simply let me rest. I suppose it is easy to say I basically shut the world away as I drank coffee, took my pills, coughed my head off, struggled to breathe and to rest. I was miserable. My precious schnauzers could not understand why they were tucked inside the gated community of the breakfast room while I sauntered ever so slowly towards the bedroom. Housework was ignored. My stove actually got so dusty I could write my initials on it. My Christmas holidays were a time of reflection. For weeks I wondered IF I would ever get well. What did I learn during this time?

Life is precious. It is to be cherished with those we love and we should make the most of every day we live. After all, we never know when the wheels of life may turn and we never know when Father Time may start ticking away. Last Christmas, I didn’t shop, at all! My life and health was in a fog, so I learned that Christmas should not be a time to rush around. It is a time to reflect and to appreciate.

Christmas time is a great time to change our lives. To celebrate and appreciate our loved ones, freedom and the belief and faith we have.

So many of us get wrapped up in the hustle, bustle of the holiday season. We rush to get to the next social event. We rush to get our families prepared for the holidays, and we rush to complete our shopping. Maybe we should slow down and appreciate life.

How many times have you seen the actions of someone during the Christmas season? The rushing in traffic. The rudeness of others? Yesterday, a driver that was behind me in a torrential rain storm decided I wasn’t going fast enough in the center lane. He drove so close to me that If I had to slam on my brakes, he would’ve rear ended me. I tapped my breaks lightly, to give him the message to back off. Instead, he swiftly changed lanes, cut me off, then tapped his break. Yes, he sent me a message and I hope wherever he was headed in the rain storm, I do hope and pray he made it without causing an accident.

It is my perception that we should slow down and appreciate life, especially during the Christmas rush season. Perhaps while shopping, we could stop and smile at someone. How many times have you noticed someone with a frown on their face? Maybe if you said hello to that person it might change their perspective. Have you ever visited a nursing home at the holidays? There are so many people there who never have a visitor and during the Christmas season they do not receive mail, phone calls, or visits. These residents deserve to have a happy holiday season. I have added a few to my Christmas letter list and I enclose a Christmas card with the letter. My hope is to put a smile on someone’s face during the holidays. After all, Christmas is the reason for the season.

My Christmas wish for all of you reading this is one of simplicity. May you appreciate your family and friends while taking the time to realize Christmas is a time to share your love to others and to man kind. May you never get so busy with the demands of your life that you forget to smile and say hello. May you not over indulge with the spirits of the season, the foods, and the gift giving that you forget the true meaning of Christmas. May you stop for a moment, inhale, exhale and say, “Merry Christmas” with a smile on your face.

Merry Christmas to all, and may God bless us – EVERYONE!

Little things mean a lot, especially at Christmas.

 

 

Losing Weight

Today Is A New Day — The Weight Watchers Way – Back On The Wagon Again


Dearest Readers:

Today is a new day, one that I will not go to my regular Weight Watchers meeting. Over the Thanksgiving holiday I have gained — again! I am so furious with myself that I could throw in the towel and give up, BUT — I shall not quit! While I am ashamed and furious with myself, I do not wish to share my mood or shame with others at the meeting.

Why?

I do not wish to fall off the wagon, but I have. According to my scales I have gained about three pounds. My husband asks how? “You eat like a bird, or a small child.”

True. Oh so true!

I am careful what I eat, but over the holiday, I baked a cake. My husband’s favorite cream cheese pound cake. I told myself I would not eat it, fearful that IF I took even a small bite, it would set me up for destruction. It did! Yes, I tracked my food — every bite, and many days, my power point count was over the top. I was ashamed. Furious with myself. I think I must have a conversation with my husband, telling him NOT to ‘save that last piece of cake for me.’ Of course, I ate several pieces of the cake. Afterwards, I told myself I was weak. A loser, but not in the Weight Watchers way. I was a loser to myself. Lacking courage or determination. I was a weakling. I might as well quit Weight Watchers.

OK self — you are headed down a road of self-destruction! I told myself I could stop this behavior. I have no idea where it came from. Last year at Thanksgiving I was stronger — emotionally, although I was physically ill with acute bronchitis. Food wasn’t an enemy for me last year, like it was this year. This Thanksgiving, Food was a monster to me. The cake echoed to me, telling me I was hungry and should eat, and eat and eat…. Thanksgiving does have the tendency to depress me. I am accustomed to sharing Thanksgiving with a household full of people. Friends. Family. That doesn’t happen anymore and I miss it. Maybe I should volunteer to cook for some of the organizations needing volunteers at the holidays. I scratch my head. Why didn’t I think of that earlier?

This Thanksgiving I was spinning on a wheel that wouldn’t stop and with every spin, food was the enemy.

What did I do?

I found a recipe for a chocolate cheesecake I wanted to make and I baked it. Two days later, I cut the cheesecake and ate one piece — a small piece — for breakfast. Headed back to the kitchen, I picked up the chocolate cheesecake and tossed it in the trash. I could’ve shared it with one of my neighbors, but I knew that IF that cheesecake remained inside my fridge until she came home, I would be tempted. Oh so tempted.

Today, I am angry with myself and I simply cannot attend the meeting. Tears drip down my face as I write this, sharing it with my readers and fans.

While today is a new day, for me, it is a day of self-discovery. A day to make certain I work out and eat properly, the Weight Watchers way. I will miss my meeting, but today, I am focused to get off this wagon of self-destruction and to move forward with the stiff determination and perseverance I must have to continue losing my weight.

Yes, today I am furious with myself, although I am confident I will achieve my goals. I must remind myself that this too shall pass, and I must repeat the words my father shared with me so often. The words of a poem by Anonymous, the title “Don’t Quit.” This poem is my anchor. It comforts me and gives me courage:

DON’T QUIT:

“Success is failure turned inside out,

the silver tint of the clouds of doubt,

and you never can tell how close you are.

It may be nearer when it seems afar.

So stick to the fight when you are hardest hit.

It’s when things seem worse, you mustn’t quit!”

These words anchor me, guiding, embracing me not to quit. Not in marriage. Not in my dreams and passions as a writer. Not in my life. Not with Weight Watchers.

“It’s when things seem worse, you mustn’t quit.”

Today is a New Day! Next Thursday is a new day…a new meeting! DON’T QUIT!